Indonesia's Aviastar airline loses contact with small passenger aircraft with 10 on board

A photo posted by Aviastar on their Twitter page on Oct 2, 2015, that the airline says is of the missing plane. Aviastar said the photo was taken on the morning of Oct 2, before the flight that went missing.
A photo posted by Aviastar on their Twitter page on Oct 2, 2015, that the airline says is of the missing plane. Aviastar said the photo was taken on the morning of Oct 2, before the flight that went missing.PHOTO: AVIASTAR TWITTER PAGE
5 Indonesian visitors sit down inside the Avistar office in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct 2, 2015. A small aircraft carrying 10 people went missing on Oct 2 during a flight over Indonesia's Sulawesi island, an official said. The DHC-6 Twin Otter operate
5 Indonesian visitors sit down inside the Avistar office in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct 2, 2015. A small aircraft carrying 10 people went missing on Oct 2 during a flight over Indonesia's Sulawesi island, an official said. The DHC-6 Twin Otter operated by the domestic airline Aviastar had been scheduled to land at Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province, at 2.30pm local, Transport Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said. The plane, which departed from the town of Masamba, was carrying three crew members and seven passengers, including two children, he said.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

JAKARTA (Reuters/AFP) - Indonesia's Aviastar airline said on Friday (Oct 2) that contact had been lost with a Twin Otter small passenger aircraft travelling between Masamba and Makassar on the island of Sulawesi.

The head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency confirmed an Aviastar Twin Otter DHC-6 aircraft lost contact shortly after taking off from the remote Masamba airport in North Luwu to the provincial capital Makassar at 2.29pm local time, about 30 minutes before its was scheduled to land.

"We are still waiting for more detailed information but me and my team are flying to Masamba tonight," agency chief Bambang Sulistyo told AFP.

Ten people were on board the aircraft, Mr Wisnu Darjono, an official at Indonesia's flight safety agency, told Reuters.

The plane was carrying four adults, three children and three crew and was scheduled to arrive in Makassar one hour after taking off.

Mr Abdul Munir, general manager of Makassar airport, told TVOne in a live interview the plane lost contact eight minutes after it took off.

Mr Sulistyo said the rescue efforts were likely to be carried out on Saturday morning. "It's already dark now, but things can change depending on the latest development," he added.

The Transportation Ministry said a search has begun for the aircraft.

"It was around 60 nautical miles from Makassar," ministry spokesman J.R. Barata told MetroTV. "We have now started a search.

"Most importantly, we will work out its position first," he added.

Aviastar Mandiri is an Indonesian domestic passenger airline.

According to Aviation-safety.net, Aviastar has had four fatal incidents, including the crash of a British Aerospace 146-300 aircraft in the eastern province of Papua in 2009, killing all six crew on board.

Indonesia has a patchy aviation safety record and has had three major air crashes over the past year, including an AirAsia flight that went down in the sea on a flight from Surabaya to Singapore in late December, killing all 162 people aboard.

In August, a plane crashed on a remote mountain in Oksibil, Papua, killing all 54 people on board.

In June, more than 100 people were killed in the crash of a military transport plane in the northern city of Medan, prompting the government to promise a review of the ageing air force fleet.